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Just started fresh year, and in calc based physics IMPORTANT QUESTION

  1. Aug 26, 2010 #1
    hi, i just started freshman year, and i am taking the standard intro physics classes for physics majors', but i am only in calculus 1, and in the first day today, our prof already started with some basic kinematic questions that involved derivatives.

    I taught myself derivatives over the summer using spivak's calculus 3rd edition, but i was wondering what math am i going to need to know besides derivatives? So that i may get a head start learning it. So far i know all the rules for derivatives (finding the derivative of a polynomial, chain rule, addition rule, constant rule, etc.) what else do i need to know besides that?

    I haven't learned how to integrate yet, should i start? I love math, i was in honors algebra-honors precalc, but i was one of those kids that opted to take ap stats senior year. (senioritis)

    fyi: our school generally requires calc 1 as a pre-rec not a co-rec, but i had a perfect score on my math placement test so, after some pleading with my advisor, he let me take it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2010 #2
    Integration is definitely necessary! Integral calculus plays a HUGE role in physics, and not only in kinematics - electrostatics, dynamics, mechanics - all intrinsically utilize integral calculus.

    But with a passion like you, I doubt you will have a problem learning it :)

    You might also want to read up on vectors - they, too, are central to physics.

    Cheers, and goodluck with your studies!
  4. Aug 28, 2010 #3
    Hi I am 16 and i am starting to learn analytical mechanics but i have just realised that i do not have enough math to do it. I have done basic calculus, but i also recommend you to do the same as i am doing, which is to learn up on multivariable calculus, differential equations and linear algebra. For good videos, try looking at MIT lectures free on youtube. Type the course names (i think 18.02,18.03 and 18.06) and search in youtube. every course has 30 lectures, each one lasting around 50 mins. it provides FREE and excellent instruction. I have read first year physics already, and although u might only need basic calc, but it is good to do more.

  5. Aug 28, 2010 #4
    If you really could hack the difficult problems at the end of the chapters in Spivak without
    knowing calculus already then well done!

    It depends on what physics book you're using, if it's like Halliday/Resnick's Fundamentals of Physics,
    or Young/Freedman Universtity Physics, or Tippler's Physics for Scientists & Engineers (those kinds of books)
    you'll only need basic integration in the early chapters.

    My advice to you would be to get an easy calculus book and teach yourself the basic
    integration techniques out of it quickly so that you can understand how to re-derive all of the
    basic kinematic equations in the early chapters. The vector stuff needed for this is given in
    one of the early physics book chapters so that's no problem at all, just get the integration
    techniue/understanding down for yourself pretty quick so that you can understand what's
    going on in physics. You wont need anything like the rigor or Spivak to understand the
    math behind the physics in your book (assuming it's like one of the ones I mentioned above)

    Calculus Made Easy : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calculus_Made_Easy
    Here is a small book that will give you the techniques, a link to the book is given on
    that page in the footnotes.

    Great videos on how to understand integration, really and truly recommended :wink:

    Videos on how to solve problems more mechanically than understanding what you're doing,
    worth watching for the sake of it.

    Also, if it's videos you're after I made a big list here if you're interested.
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